Sunday, 26 October 2008

Dark Places


In just 30 years we have seen one earth and three planets worth of damage to our environment. In that time a one third decline in the populations of 1,300 fish, bird and animal species has taken place. Almost every other day the media reports on the damage that is being done whether it be the melting ice in Antarctica or the adverse weather conditions here at home, a simple test always reminds me of the man made damage to our environment; step outside on any clear London evening and look up to the heavens, you will never see a sky full of stars as you did say 30 years ago because light pollution has blacked them out! Recent research has shown that light pollution is killing off the birds; it’s killing off moths, spiders, sparrows and amphibians supporting the case that light pollution is considered a real threat to the environment as well as to astronomers.
Stray light from our towns and cities is illuminating the sky over great distances and is eradicating our enjoyment of night skies. This stray light phenomenon is known as skyglow and although an awareness of the problem has been around for many years, the mechanism of skyglow, how it is created and what the key causative agents are, have not been fully appreciated. Sky Glow occurs from both natural and human-made sources. The natural component of sky glow has five sources: sunlight reflected off the moon and earth, faint air glow in the upper atmosphere (a permanent, low-grade aurora), sunlight reflected off interplanetary dust (zodiacal light), starlight scattered in the atmosphere, and background light from faint, unresolved stars and nebulae (celestial objects or diffuse masses of interstellar dust and gas that appear as hazy smudges of light). Natural sky glow is well quantified.I do apologise for ranting on about modern light pollution but all too often the environmentalists and so-called eco-socialists bang on about everything else and forget about this harmful phenomenon.

Much, much more needs to be done if we are to save the planet and mankind from its own destruction not just a heavy duty on large, expensive ‘gas-guzzling’ cars or a levy on the carer bag.

The Governments own chief scientific adviser has said that Global warming and climate change is a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism. The defining challenge of the 21st century will be to face that reality, the reality that humanity shares a common fate, and that common fate requires global co-operation, a fundamental simplicity that New Labour and many world leaders refuse to understand.

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